Evil and the Justice of God
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Evil and the Justice of God

InterVarsity Press / 2013 / Paperback

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Product Description

Recipient, Merit Award, 2007 Christianity Today Theology/Ethics Book

With every earthquake and war, understanding the nature of evil and our response to it becomes more urgent. Evil is no longer the concern just of ministers and theologians but also of politicians and the media. We hear of child abuse, ethnic cleansing, AIDS, torture and terrorism, and rightfully we are shocked. But, N. T. Wright says, we should not be surprised.

For too long we have naively believed in the modern idea of human progress. In contrast, postmodern thinkers have rightly argued that evil is real, powerful and important, but they give no real clue as to what we should do about it. In fact, evil is more serious than either our culture or our theology has supposed. How then might Jesus' death be the culmination of the Old Testament solution to evil but on a wider and deeper scale than most imagine?

Can we possibly envision a world in which we are delivered from evil? How might we work toward such a future through prayer and justice in the present? These are the powerful and pressing themes that N. T. Wright addresses in this book that is at once timely and timeless.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 083083415X
ISBN-13: 9780830834150

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Author Bio

A prolific writer of both scholarly and popular books, N. T. Wright has written over thirty books, including and the magisterial . His N. T. Wright For Everyone Series includes commentaries covering the entire New Testament. Formerly bishop of Durham in England, Wright is research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He was formerly canon theologian of Westminster Abbey and dean of Lichfield Cathedral. He also taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Gregorian University in Rome and many other institutions around the world. In addition to his many books, Wright reaches a broad audience through his frequent media appearances. A sought-after commentator, Wright writes frequently for newspapers in England, including the and the He has been interviewed numerous times by radio and television broadcasters on both sides of the Atlantic, including ABC, NBC, CNN, PBS and NPR.

Editorial Reviews

"With his habitual unparalleled depth and brilliance, Tom Wright offers us in this book new starting points and fruitful paths for relocating and coming to grips with the problem of evil. Along the way he stirs us to fresh commitment to combat evil imaginatively and faithfully. This is a profound book much needed in these times full of catastrophes and conflicts."
"It is helpful to find an author who pushes readers toward a better understanding of evil instead of rushing to provide answers for why evil happens."
"The book is well written and easy to read. Wright's purpose is outlined from the beginning and is consistent throughout, providing a practical solution to the problem of evil. We are indebted to Wright for his contribution to this difficult subject of theodicy. An excellent tool for theologians and religion teachers as the book comes to grips with the reality of evil."
"[A] book with countless brilliant things in it."
"Wright will get you thinking outside your theological comfort zone and may open up new vistas to how to understand Evil and the Justice of God."
"The vivid reality of evil in our world pulls the questions of God's reality—and God's perplexing timing—to the fore. Wright, one of the Church's most penetrating contemporary theologians, places the age-old question of evil square in the new context of post-modernity, asserting that the cross and resurrection of Jesus have a decisive word to interject into our dark experiences."
"Wright, one of the foremost theologians of our age, is always accessible and informative but the timeliness of the topic and the insightful way in which he approaches it from a solid Biblical foundation without becoming pedantic gives hope for those of us who care about the hard questions in life."
"More successfully than I have seen him do before, Wright shows how the kingdom of God is not just a matter of going to heaven when you die or of reordering present reality, but the establishment of a new people and a new creation to serve God and reign on earth."
"The subject of evil itself is intriguing, and Bishop Wright keeps our eyes riveted on it. . . . This book's treasures are accessible to any serious reader. There is little in the way of scholarly or critical apparatus, jargon or references to obscure theologians to put one off. Quite the contrary, it reads like an informal speech, given by a knowledgeable individual speaking out of his hard won insights into a most vexing human and theological problem."
"Wright should be commended for refocusing us on what we ought to do with evil, rather than discussing how it came to be. . . . His book can be profitable to pastors and theologians interested in reflecting on Biblically responsible ways to minister to an evil stricken and suffering world."
"As always, Wright's arguments are well-conceived and timely; this is a highly recommended read."
"[This book] is an excellent and readable work. The author does not pretend to answer all the philosophical questions that surround this issue, but he does offer some solid insights and encouragement."
"This short book is remarkable in its content. . . . It is an opportunity to sit at the feet of a real scholar as he deals with a topic complicated by various philosophies in order to find the truth. . . . This is a book of worth and wisdom that belongs in the church library."
"[D]eserves careful reading by all who are in any way seeking to understand the modern day challenges of evil. . . . I recommend this book. Its ultimate concern shines through to be pastoral and practical rather than merely satisfying philosophically."
"Well written and accessible."
" Evil and the Justice of God unravels any skeptic's doubt that a loving God can exist in a world so full of suffering. Tom Wright offers a breathtaking glimpse into the mind and purposes of God . . . and a hope-filled plan for how we can reconcile a broken world with the kingdom to come."
"Wright puts evil in perspective by giving us a powerfully persuasive vision of the 'new heavens and new earth,' the ultimate reality in which we can already begin to participate. This is a book that every thoughtful Christian should read."
"The shadow of N. T. Wright looms large over the evangelical horizon. Wright has established himself as the scholar/activist/teacher to a generation of evangelicals. With the publication of Evil and the Justice of God, Wright enters an arena largely occupied by philosophers, and his entrance is timely indeed. With the tragic events of recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the problem of evil, and while philosophical discussions of the problem are helpful, the desperate need has been for a distinctively biblical approach to the topic by someone apt for handling the subject. Evil and the Justice of God stands alone in satisfying this need. From now on, it should be the first work consulted by Christian philosophers and theologians working on the problem of evil, and pastors, laypeople and Christian workers should read and internalize the perspective of the book to insure a distinctively biblical approach in ministering to people in the face of evil."
" Evil and the Justice of God is a sure-footed, lively summary of the subject in Scripture and Christian thought. Its central contentions are that the problem of evil has to be confronted in creation, not apart from it, that human beings have a part to play in that drama, and that such a role belongs with what it means to be truly and completely human. Suffering need not remain an eternal riddle; it is a pillar of the structure of reality and of the purpose of God. The book is an immensely useful introduction to one of the great issues of human existence."
"[A]n important and refreshing treatment of the problem of evil. . . . [A] gem for any pastor or theologically interested lay person."
"Wright effectively phrases the believer's questions about such issues and recalls the foundations of faith that sustain one in the midst of suffering and ambiguity."
"[A] very practical and thought-provoking composition that addresses the challenges and inherent connection between evil and the justice of God within both a postmodern Western context and a Judeo-Christian context."
"Like all . . . Wright's works that I have so far read, this one is quite lucid and enjoyable to read."
"N. T. Wright is one of the most influential thinkers in today's church, and his book helps us better understand why evil exists and points us to a day when it will be ultimately defeated. Wright's discussion of the power of the cross makes this excellent reading for pastors."
"Bishop Wright inspires us. . . . All Christians can benefit from this well-written book."
"Wright takes a complex subject and in his usual delightful way provides a readable, stimulating, and profound account. . . . It will help equip believers with a biblical worldview on a matter which directly concerns us all."

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  1. David
    Becancour, QC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    N. T. Wright on Evil
    July 2, 2013
    Becancour, QC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    In this short, masterful, book on the problem of evil, N. T. Wright proposes to approach the problem of evil in a way that, even amongst Christian philosophers and theologians, is rarely seen. This book, whether you agree or disagree with its main tenets, is a joy to read. In this book review I will begin by explaining the main purpose and intended audience of this book. This will be followed by brief outline of the book. Finally I will give my personal opinion concerning the advantages and disadvantages, the pros and cons of this book.

    This book is, in part, a side-effect of N. T. Wright's magnificent work on the Resurrection of Jesus-Christ, and, in part, a response to a number of major tragedies that have recently struck our world. This book is the compilation and edited version of five lectures that he gave on the subject at Westminster Abbey in 2003, and, the expanded version of a short documentary that appeared on TV in the U. K. in 2005. This book seems to be primarily intended for popular audiences, though it would definitely be of interest to philosophers of Religion who deal with the problem of evil, and Christian theologians, for reasons that I will explain later. N. T. Wright begins, in his preface, by noting the limitations of his book. He is not addressing the philosophical problem of evil; which he tends to see as being more of a smoke screen, or a way of avoiding the true difficulties, than as a valid inquiry. Nor does he pretend to fully treat, in this short book, each of the important Christian doctrines that he integrates into his response to the problem of evil.

    At this point it is worth mentioning that he is seeking to give, not his own version of a response to the problem of evil, but what he sees as the Christian, and therefore biblical, response to the problem of evil. He claims that Theologies that consider the importance of the cross in God's plan to deal with sin rarely deal with the larger problem of evil in general, and philosophers who deal with the problem of evil have very rarely brought the cross of Christ into the equation. Wright, in this book, proposes to reverse these trends. The Christian response to the problem of evil cannot remove the cross from the scenario. For Christianity, the cross of Christ, and all that was accomplished on that cross (and in His resurrection), is the final solution to the problem of evil. Final, not in that evil has been done away with (many great atrocities and tragedies have happened since the cross), but in that God has provided the means by which all evil will be ultimately destroyed, and by which justice will be given.

    The book is composed of a preface and five chapters, seemingly corresponding to the five lectures that he gave in 2003. The book also comes with a detailed table of contents, a subject index which makes it easy to find just about any subject that the author deals with, and an index of biblical references. The main drawback to this book is the lack of references. Though he provides references, on a single page at the end of the book, to the main books that he refers to, a number of comments or paraphrases go unreferenced, such as the occasional mentions of Jurgen Moltmann and M. Scott Peck. The lack of complete references, however, is certainly made up for by the fact that this book is both easy to read and a joy to read. It can be read in just a couple of hours, but in that time the author has given the reader so much food for thought that it is well worth reading again.

    In chapter 1 the author sets the scene for his exposition of the Christian response to the Problem of evil by noting how the modern world looks at evil, how postmodernism has restated the problem of evil, what we must necessarily keep before our eyes if we are to truly approach the problem of evil, and how the church needs to approach the problem of evil.

    In chapter 2 N. T. Wright sets the stage for Christian approach to the problem of evil by explaining how the Old Testament, in its overarching narrative scheme, approaches the problem of evil. He looks first of all at the universal problem of evil, as it affects all of mankind; then at how the chosen people, who were to be God's solution to the problem, became part of the problem; and, finally, at how the problem of evil is met with in the lives of Old Testament Individuals.

    In chapter 3 Wright shows how the Gospels treat the problem of evil, by showing that they see all evil as climaxing at the cross. This allows him to propose what he sees as a richer theory of atonement, and a deeper understanding of evil, and what can be done about it today.

    Chapters 4 and 5 suggest ways in which we can, as Christians, begin fixing a broken world that is drowning in all kinds of evil, in anticipation of that new world that will be without evil altogether. In chapter 4 he suggests a number of practical ways that this can be done in our societies, governments, and even our personal lives (such as prayer and personal holiness). In chapter 5 he suggests that by implementing the particularly Christian notion of forgiveness, properly understood, we can give this broken world a taste of heaven, even as we suffer evils ourselves.

    This book is an enjoyable read. The reader gets the impression that they are sitting in the 2003 lectures that were given by Wright. His explanation of the Christian response to the problem of evil is masterfully woven together. Though some theologians may take exception to his claims about atonement, and some philosophers may take exception to his tendency to see Satan as a sub-personal being, and though scholars would prefer to have more footnotes, this book is, all in all, a great addition to the already enormous collection of works on the problem of evil.

    This is a small book that attempts to deal with a gigantic problem. This book is a refreshing look at the problem of evil. There are a few good books on the problem of evil, but the great majority of books or articles that deal with the problem of evil are either dense philosophical treatises, or the unsuccessful attempts of non-philosophers to deal with the philosophical problem of evil. N. T. Wright does not attempt to deal with the philosophical problem of evil, but, quite simply, presents the Christian solution to evil. Every worldview, from atheism to Hinduism, must deal with the problem of evil, or the problem of goodness, in the universe. Wright presents a clear and concise statement of how God, the God of the Christian Bible, has dealt with evil. I would highly suggest this book to anybody who is interested in the problem of evil, whether they are approaching it from a philosophical, theological, or apologetical angle. This book will be of interest both to scholars and popular audiences alike. If you don't have it yet, get it! (I am not always this enthusiastic about books that I review, but, though I didn't agree with everything Wright said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!)
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